Food | The Reconnoisseur

The Reconnnoisseur: Daily intelligence

It’s where Gordon Ramsay likes to eat, apparently

The Reconnnoisseur: Daily intelligence

June 17 2010
Nicole Swengley

It was when I found myself closing my eyes to focus on the intense flavours of an almond financier with roast strawberries that I knew I’d discovered a truly wonderful restaurant. I can’t take all the credit, though, because I’d cheekily asked Gordon Ramsay, while interviewing him for a magazine article, where he liked to eat. His reply was the Vanilla Pod in Marlow, run by chef-proprietor Michael Macdonald.

The restaurant is tucked behind a discreet black door in a house where TS Eliot lived from 1917-1920. The compact dining room seats just 28 at round tables. High-backed chairs provide a degree of privacy and there’s also an eight-seater private dining room upstairs.

Local produce is used extensively in Macdonald’s imaginative dishes, and the strawberries I enjoyed had been picked a mile away that morning. The flavours of the pan-fried gilthead sea bream on lentils, which preceded my dessert, were equally memorable, while hand-made petit fours served with coffee proved irresistible. Presentation and service were faultless and our two-course lunch was fantastic value at £15.50 per person (three courses, £19.50). Pictured: seared scallops and Jerusalem artichoke jelly with white chocolate foam and truffle.

Three-course à la carte and gourmand menus cost £40 and £50 per person respectively, while a £25 three-course set dinner menu served on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays is particularly good value. The lunch menu changes weekly, while the à la carte and gourmand menus change every eight weeks. And, should you get totally hooked, it’s worth knowing that Macdonald offers private cookery lessons tailored to individual requirements.

See also

Restaurants, Dinners